The housing crisis affects all of us. You can’t read the news these days without something coming up about housing affordability and homelessness in BC.
A recent study found that 4 out of the 5 least affordable cities for home ownership in Canada are in BC (1). And the situation is far worse for renters – we’ve been hearing stories from people facing evictions in Vancouver, Burnaby, Prince Rupert, Kelowna and in communities across the province.
Homelessness is a significant issue in BC. There are approximately 2770 homeless people in Metro Vancouver and an estimated 15,000 homeless people across BC. However, homeless counts are under-estimates and only capture the tip of the iceberg, not telling the story of people couch-surfing or living in over-crowded houses.
In Still Dying on the Streets: Homeless Deaths in British Columbia, Megaphone Magazine found that at least 46 people died on the streets in B.C. in 2014–a 70 per cent increase from the year previous. The median age of death for a homeless person in BC is between 40 and 49 years, almost half the life expectancy of 76.4 years for the average British Columbian.
Homeless camps have formed to create safety and community in Abbotsford, Maple Ridge and Victoria but they’re constantly under threat from eviction without any stable housing being provided.
Let’s get to the heart of the problem. Housing the homeless saves us money in the long-run and taking the housing pressure off low-income families puts more money in their pockets, which, in turn, boosts the local economy and improves our communities.
- BC Poverty Reduction Coalition policy recommendations – January 2017
- Getting Serious About Affordable Housing: Towards a Plan for Metro Vancouver (CCPA, May 2016)
- Youth Rights! Right Now! Ending Youth Homelessness: A Human Rights Guide (Canada Without Poverty, June 2016)
- Our Homes Can’t Wait: 2015 Hotel Survey and Housing Report (Carnegie Community Action Project, May 2016)
- Still Dying on the Streets: Homeless Deaths in British Columbia, 2006-2014 (Megaphone, March 2016)
- We can’t talk about inequality without talking about homelessness (Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, The Guardian, March 2016)
- Canada failing international housing obligations (Pivot Legal, February 2016)
- Housing need in Canada: Healthy lives start at home (Canadian Paediatric Society, October 2015)
- Rental Housing Index (BC Non-Profit Housing Association and VanCity Credit Union, September 2015)
- BC’s Real Social Housing Numbers (CCPA, March 2013)
- Unpacking the Housing Numbers: How Much New Social Housing is BC Building (CCPA, September 2010)
- Homelessness: Clear Focus Needed (Auditor General of BC, March 2009)